Young Adventurers’ Club gives local kids outdoor fun
ADDISON COUNTY — Summiting mountains is always easier with friends.
That’s the philosophy behind the Young Adventurers Club, an offshoot of the Addison County-focused Breadloaf Section of the Green Mountain Club.
Lauren Bierman took over as director of the Young Adventurers Club, or YAC, in 2016 with the intent of getting her young sons, seven-year-old Ty and five-year-old Sam, exploring Vermont’s mountains, woods, lakes and streams. She also hoped to burn some of their endless energy in the process.
With YAC, Bierman, who lives with her husband Clint and their sons in Bridport, leads Ty, Sam and many of the boys’ friends and their parents on monthly hikes around Addison County that take them to the top of local peaks like Snake Mountain and Mount Independence.
“When they have their peers to hike with, it’s much more fun,” explains Clint Bierman, lead singer of the popular band The Grift. “When we hike just as a family it’s a lot of whining and a lot of, like, ‘carry me.’ But when their friends are there they’ll just go right up the mountain.”
Through the program, the Biermans’ sons and the others who go on the club’s hikes have developed a love not just for the outdoors in general, but for the beauty of the nature unique to Vermont and Addison County, they said. Lauren Bierman was an outdoor enthusiast as a kid and wanted Ty and Sam to have some of the same experiences she had growing up.
Lauren grew up in Connecticut and Clint in Indiana, and the greenery of Vermont’s rolling mountains and rural farmsteads presented an intriguing shift from what they were used to. When the Biermans were thinking about where to settle down, Vermont seemed to be the perfect place to raise a family knowing they would want their kids to have a close relationship with nature.
YAC has given Lauren the perfect platform to provide them those experiences.
“I think some of the best times that we’ve had raising our kids together has been out on the lake or hiking,” Lauren Bierman said. “Just as parents and as friends, those are some of the best, most fun times that we’ve had.”
She recalls a Thanksgiving family backpacking trip in New Hampshire as the moment she fell in love with the outdoors.
“I remember going on an overnight hiking trip with my family in the White Mountains one year,” she said. “We stayed in one of the huts and it was the most fun I’d ever had, and I was just hooked.”
YAC has given Ty, Sam and their friends access to some of the same fondly memorable experiences right here in Addison County. One of the club’s favorite hikes is Snake Mountain, which they’ve done many times, and Clint can rattle off a list of fond memories the family has of preparing big “feasts” to eat at the top of the mountain and of Ty, Sam and their friends running down the mountain. Even though the hike up is exhausting they always seem to find the energy to race each other back down.
Lauren Bierman likes to focus YAC’s hikes on local mountains, usually on the smaller end (like the Snake Mountain trail, which is 4.9 miles round trip with a 1,030-foot elevation gain). But she says she hopes to soon take the group to Mount Mansfield or Camel’s Hump — Vermont’s tallest and third-tallest mountains — and she thinks the kids will be up for the challenge.
Five members of the Young Adventurers Club (and a hairy sidekick) take a break during their ramble on the Robert Frost Trail in Ripton. Shown, from left, are Ty Bierman, Jack Kiedaisch, Finn Kiedaisch, Sam Bierman (holding Willie Nelson, the dog) and Owen Streicher, who are creating some memorable experiences on trails around Addison County.
It’s important that each hike is challenging for the kids, and hiking mountains is a good way to push them.
“When they get to the top of a mountain, they are so appreciative,” she said. “I have this picture of Sam at the top of Snake and I remember that it was such a struggle to get there, but once we got to the summit, he just sat down in this Zen pose and was just looking out over it all. I think they have a real appreciation of it when they see the beautiful views.”
Sam’s and Ty’s friend Owen Streicher, six, says that Snake Mountain is probably his favorite hike to do with the Young Adventurers’ Club because it’s fun to throw rocks off the cliff-like edge that provides views across Lake Champlain. (Calling down below, first, of course, to be sure no one is there.)
Owen’s dad, Brandon Streicher, has noticed that YAC has also allowed Owen to explore and cultivate a love for animals.
“Owen is really into animals and trying to save them,” he said. “He loves animals and he wants to be a veterinarian at this point… And I think that’s been a part of being outdoors and getting that experience too.”
Lauren Bierman, who works as a nurse practitioner at Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, has training as a Wilderness First Responder, is a certified Maine State Trip Leader and once led a group of nine 13-year-old girls on a 6.5-week trip hiking the Appalachian trail — suffice to say she is well equipped to lead a group like YAC.
“People should join us,” she said. “This is a fantastic group for people looking for a community of parents and kids that have lots of energy.”
Those interested in getting involved can visit the YAC’s webpage at gmcbreadloaf.org/yacor check the group’s Facebook page.
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